To the editor:
In the latest issue of the Blue and Gold, Mr. Bill Furlong outlined the dire situation the school district faces as it prepares the 2011 - 2012 budget for our school district. Mr. Furlong points out that cuts required to balance the budget will directly and adversely affect our children's education. What Mr. Furlong's article does not address is compensation for administrators, teachers and staff. Voters are being asked to make a meaningful decision without all the necessary information.
Contract negotiations are still underway between the administration and the teacher's association. As such, taxpayers are not allowed to be informed of the progress of the negotiation, or the potential impact of its final terms, yet we are expected to vote on a budget that funds the contract. Once again we are in a no-win situation. If we vote the budget down we hurt our kids. If we vote for the budget we conceivably agree to be taxed at a higher rate to provide funding for a teacher's contract we do not agree with. Can the board really expect us to pay more for less service? The concept makes absolutely no sense but this is the situation the state of New York and the New York State United Teachers have put us in.
The issue of teacher's compensation is a divisive subject with strong feelings on both sides. The first step toward coming to substantial, meaningful solutions on a local level is to agree that we can openly and honestly discuss the subject of teacher's compensation without fear of reprisal. We need to remove the emotion from the discussion and focus on the facts. The current system is totally unsustainable. If we continue down this path the district will certainly lose students. Those that can afford to send their kids to private schools will do so. A loss in student population translates directly to a loss in state aid. Foreseeably, we can end up with a small student population being taught only the basics by highly compensated state employees.